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The Last Detective [Hardcover]

Peter Lovesey
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Kindle Edition CDN $6.15  
Hardcover CDN $80.94  
Hardcover, Sept. 8 1992 --  
Paperback CDN $9.49  
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Audio, Cassette, Audiobook CDN $75.45  
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Book Description

Sept. 8 1992 Windsor Selections

A nude female corpse has been found floating in a large reservoir just south of Bristol.  In order to solve the mystery of the "Lady in the Lake,"  Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond must locate two missing letters attributed to Jane Austen and defy his superiors on the force to save a woman unjustly accused of murder.  This is the first of the Peter Diamond series; it won the 1992 Anthony Boucher Award for Best Mystery Novel.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Irascible, corpulent, cynical Chief Superintendent Peter Diamond of the Avon and Somerset murder squad attributes Britain's decline as a world power to the abolition of capital punishment in 1964. Spurning computer gadgetry, he sticks to common sense, index cards and gumshoeing: "Knocking on doors. That's how we get results." The almost clueless case of the naked woman's body found floating in Chew Valley Lake poses a supreme challenge for the detective, who is anxious to clear his name of recent charges of brutality. The belated identification of the victim as actress Geraldine Snoo, written out of a BBC soap opera two years before, leads to one surprise after another, including the claim of the victim's professor husband that she had tried to kill him, and culminating in the suspenseful trial of divorced mother Dana Didrikson whom Geraldine had accused of trying to steal her husband. Diamond refutes genetic fingerprinting evidence against Dana and, in a stunning last scene, reveals the killer's identity. Lovesy, winner of a Silver Dagger Award for Waxwork and a Golden Dagger for The False Inspector Dew, uses Bath as his setting, treating us to a great chase through the Roman baths for which the town is named. This witty novel gets the new Perfect Crime imprint (formerly Crime Club) off to a flying start.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

Doubleday inaugurates their ``Perfect Crime'' imprint with a body in a lake, soon identified as former soap-opera actress Gerry Snoo. Chief Superintendent Peter Diamond, charged with but recently absolved of malicious interrogation techniques, focuses on the victim's husband, university professor Greg Jackman, a local hero for saving young Matt Didrikson from drowning in the weir. Did Greg kill his wife in order to dally with Matt's mum, Dana? Did Dana do it for love of Greg? Or? At odds with his supervisor over procedures, Diamond resigns from the force but then investigates on his own. Finally, when Dana is charged, he offers telling tidbits to establish her innocence--and cause the courtroom breakdown of her employer, a drug importer with ties to cocaine addict Snoo. Crafty authorial misdirection--including a subplot about the authenticity and robbery of a pair of Jane Austen letters--as well as writing skills that have justifiably earned Lovesey international awards, plus a PBS following for his Sergeant Cribb series. Top-form Lovesey. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm Glad to be reading Lovesey Again! Aug. 9 2003
Format:Paperback
I read all the Cribb/Thackery series awhile ago, and this is my first of Lovesey's series with Peter Diamond. I'm glad to be reading him again. He is a veteran novelist. Although this series is entirely different than Cribb and Thackery, Lovesey's talent as a novelist is very apparant. His writing is a bit painstaking at first as he sets up the scene for the murder and denouement, but it still keeps your interest. In this first book in the Diamond series we are introduced to Peter Diamond who is a Detective Superintendent in Bath, England. A body of a woman is fished out of the lake and when the body is finally identified it is determined that she was a television star. In trying to unravel the mystery of this death, Diamond finds out that Mrs. Geraldine Jackman was not a particularly nice person. Diamond finds himself at odds with his partner while trying to determine the murderer, and it ends up costing him is job with the police. Diamond still doggedly pursues enquiries on his own and is almost killed himself. Although I had guessed the murderer about halfway through the book, there were enough other surprises that kept coming up to keep my interest. I am very interested in reading other books in this series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars New Directions for Lovesey April 12 2001
Format:Paperback
I have always had a love/hate relationship with Peter Lovesey's books for many years. I have a large number of his novels on my shelf, mostly from the Sgt. Cribb series. In looking over them I realized that while they were readable, there were not particularly memorable and were all somewhat unsatisfactory. "The Last Detective" is a bit of a change in pace, in that it really is a notch better than the Lovesey standard.
Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond fluctuates between being interesting and being thoroughly unlikable. While not anti-computer, he is quite distrustful of them, and is unhappy with their effect on police work. As a result he has come to style himself as 'the last detective.' His overall personality is overbearing and a bit egotistical which makes him a bit unpopular with both his co-workers and the top brass. As a reader I found that he had his moments, but I liked his second in command, John Wigful, quite a bit better.
The plot, which centers on a drowned woman who turns out to be a 'retired' soap star with the personality of a rabid mink and the morals of a sociopathic rabbit. Singularly murderable, if I say so myself. The most prominent of the suspects are much more likeable. In a Lovesey novel this usually means that they will be subjected to a fair amount of hectoring by the investigator, and this is no exception. In this case, the police make a highly dubious arrest. Detective Diamond is so disturbed by the process that he resigns his position and resolves to do some investigation on his own.
While the path to the true murderer is a bit complex it does not justify the length of the novel. Pacing is often uneven. Lovesey uses an unusual device in this story, i.e.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a drag Oct. 8 2000
Format:Paperback
Peter Diamond is something of an anachronism on the police force--a stickler for old-fashioned detection in a business that relies almost completely on state-of-the-art computers and genetic engineering to catch crooks. So when he is called in to investigate the death of a woman found floating nude in a river near Bath, he sees it as the perfect opportunity to prove himself as "the last detective." On the way, Diamond repeatedly risks not only life and limb but the most important thing to him--his job.
There are plenty of entertaining moments here. The examination of the fierce backstage politics at Scotland Yard is fascinating, and Lovesey, ever the consummate researcher, weaves in an intriguing subplot involving two mysterious letters penned by the late, great Jane Austen. Unfortunately, he may have heaped a bit too much on his plate; there isn't enough emphasis on what should be the real heart of the novel--the mystery itself.
That, in addition to excessive length, is a real problem. Even Lovesey's crisp, lighter-than-air prose can't overcome a plot this bulky and unfocused. The use of alternating points of view tends to bog down rather than advance the narrative, while other story devices--such as a clumsy attempt at courtroom drama--are just plain unnecessary. The mystery never achieves the level of complexity needed to justify the extraordinary length of time that Diamond takes to unravel it--in fact, it's rather shallow. Not to mention the fact that the identity of the murderer becomes a foregone conclusion well before THE LAST DETECTIVE enters its final pages--don't expect to be surprised.
And finally, the greatest stumbling block turns out to be the detective himself.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A LOT TO LIKE Aug. 1 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I don't care for mystery stories that ramble on before they get to the actual crime, and ramble on again after culprit is identified. This one doesn't do that. The corpse is introduced (subtly) in the opening sentence, and the killer isn't finally revealed until the closing pages. In between are plenty twists and turns in the plot, and a number of startling revelations.

Peter Lovesey definitely knows how to write. The descriptive passages are effective--and not too lengthy, the dialogue is natural and the characters believable. When the suspense builds, the tension is palpable. If Amazon allowed me to give the book four-and-a-half stars, I probably would. There's a lot to like here.
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